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JLittle need be said upon the subject of the present 
work. The utility of it must be evident to all, who are in 
the least degree conversant with the arts. We shall there- 
fore shortly state, what this book contains, and then make 
some few observations, which will be for the most part 
taken from M. D'Hancarville's Preface, and the various 
Essays prefixed to the original Work of Sir William 


The designs, here presented to the public, are the out- 
lines drawn and engraved by that accurate artist, the late 
Mr. Kirk, from the two works of the late Sir William 
Hamilton ; the first, in four volumes folio, the second in 
three, edited by Tieschbien, which cannot together be pro- 
cured for less than fifty or sixty guineas. They were 
selected by Mr. Kirk, on account of the beauty of their 
composition, and the elegance and truth of their indivi- 
dual forms. It is probable, had he lived, that this work 
would have been still more extensive, as one of the ori- 
ginal volumes has been published since his death. There 
was another object also, which he always kept in view, and 
that was, the rejection of all those designs from his collec- 
tion, which tended in any degree to indelicate expression. 
The various beautiful borders which surround these de- 
signs, were not so placed in the original vases, but served 
there, merely to ornament the handles, and other parts, 
nor were the border and figures, which are upon the 
same Plate in this work, always upon the same vase. 
Nothing can exceed the different borders, in simplicity, in 
variety, in elegance, in richness, or in beauty, and all 
modern ornaments sink in the comparison. 

Upon the vases themselves the figures are generally of a 
reddish colour, sometimes relieved by white, upon a dark 


or black ground ; but in some of the oldest Greek vases, 
the figures themselves are black and the ground a yellowish 
red. There have been many theories and opinions with 
respect to the mode, in which the vases were coloured, and 
the figures drawn. The following seems to be the most 
probable, and is founded upon the examination of various 
specimens. The earth, of which the vases were generally 
formed, was extremely light and porous, and of a light yel- 
lowish red colour. When made and dried, but probably pre- 
vious to undergoing the action of the fire, some instrument 
rather hard and capable of containing a portion of black 
liquid pigment of a certain consistency, was employed by 
the artist in drawing the outline of the figures and compo- 
sition. The reasons for supposing the instrument was 
pointed and hard, and the pigment rather thick, is, that 
upon a careful examination of some vases, a sort of sulcus, 
or furrow, is observable in the centre of the line, which is 
made by the pressure of the instrument, and which the 
thickness of the pigment did not fill up : or perhaps the 
vase itself was so porous, as to absorb the moisture of the 
paint almost immediately. The artist then, probably with 
a brush, laid on a coat of the black close to the outline, of 
a certain width, and some inferior person filled up the 
other parts. The reason for supposing, that this plan 



was pursued is, that, upon accurately examining the vases, 
there is almost always observed to be a thicker coat of the 
black paint close to the outline, from one-eighth to a quarter 
of an inch wider, than in the other parts, shewing that it 
had, at the edge of this first black, been twice laid over. 
And that this part was done by the same artist, who drew 
the outline, is probable, because in some instances he has 
departed from the original line, particularly in parts of 
draperies, sometimes painting over the first outline, and 
sometimes leaving a part of the vase still more uncovered ; 
and where this is observable, it generally improves the 
original lines. They were then done over, perhaps, with 
a sort of varnish of a reddish tint not highly polished, 
and baked. 

The Public, as has been before observed, are indebted to 
the late Sir William Hamilton for the beautiful collection 
of designs from the antique vases, whence the present out- 
lines were taken. Indeed by his great love for the arts, 
he was for a considerable length of time engaged in col- 
lecting the most beautiful specimens of antiquity ; and 
having ever less pleasure in the possession of these trea- 
sures, than in gratifying the good taste of the world in 
making them public, he permitted engravings to be made 
from them. 


It must however be considered as a loss to the public, 
that the numerous avocations of one, who felt their beauty 
and appreciated their importance so much as to collect 
them, has prevented him from indulging the public with 
his own remarks ; M. D'Hancarville has however made a 
point of following his plan, and detailing such of his 
opinions as he was favoured with ; and the object of the 
work was not confined merely to the purpose of giving a 
collection of beautiful designs to please the eye, but to pre- 
sent to artists, and such as are attached to painting as an 
amusement, a series of chaste compositions, that may tend to 
the formation of a pure and correct taste, and which may 
enable them to discover those rules, by the investigation 
of which they may arrive at the same perfection. It is 
thus that the arts are advanced, for in every art good 
models, by stimulating the imagination, whence arises 
invention, produce new ideas and new combinations. 

The advantage of a true and correct outline is insisted 
upon by every good artist of every age ; and this can 
be best obtained by the study of forms without colour. 
" Until the importance of outline," says a learned author,* 
" be generally admitted, and its perfection as generally 
sought ; till it be understood, that there can be no real 

* Cumberland on Outline. 


art without it; and that no man deserves to be called 
an artist, who is defective in this best rudiment, we 
may continue to model, to carve, and to paint, but without 
it we shall never have artists, sculptors, or painters." 

The greatest part of the vases in the collection of Sir 
William Hamilton, are ornamented with paintings, the 
subjects of which are drawn from the history, the mytho- 
logy, the religious, civil, and domestic customs of the 
ancients ; and there can be no subjects more interesting. 
The composition of these paintings, the manner in which 
they are treated, the elegance of the actions, the beauty of 
their expression, and the singularity of their character, 
render them highly valuable to the true lover of the art. 
And in the descriptions, short and even unsatisfactory as 
many of them must of necessity be, the most trifling cir- 
cumstance will sometimes be interesting to the antiquary 
and the scholar. Their utility also in forming and spreading 
a purer taste, must be very great. As taste is, in fact, more 
dependant upon our feelings than upon our learning inde- 
pendant of feeling, and as all men are born with more or 
less sensations, their taste will be injured by the exami- 
nation of bad models, and improved by the study of such as 
are excellent. 

It would indeed be rendering; an essential service to the 


arts, at the same time to lay down a series of fundamental 
precepts, and to illustrate them with perfect models ; the 
latter of which is the object of the present work. Those, 
who make collections of works of art, will probably find a 
pleasure in possessing these copies from the most ancient 
designs now existing, and as such they ought to form the 
beginning in all cabinets. 

Campania is, of all the countries of Europe, that, which 
produced the finest of the ancient vases, the principal manu- 
factures for which were probably at Nola, which lies at 
the foot of Vesuvius, and at Capua, so celebrated for those 
beauties, that even arrested the march of Hannibal. These 
designs are now too become much more valuable, since the 
loss of a part of Sir William Hamilton's fine collection off 
our own coast, in their passage from Italy. Those, which 
reached this country, are now in the possession of Thomas 
Hope, Esq. whose elegant and refined taste in collecting 
genuine works of art is almost unequalled. His house is, 
perhaps, the very first thing of the kind in England, not 
only for its various, and valuable collections of statues, 
pictures, and vases, but for the pure and classical taste, 
with which the whole is fitted up and adorned. 

In the work of Sir William Hamilton there are a series of 
dissertations by M. D'Hancarville, of which the following 


are the subjects, and from which the few following detached 
observations are taken. 

I. Of the origin of the Etruscans. 

II. Of their history and manners. 

III. Of their architecture, and of the Tuscan order. 

IV. On sculpture and painting. 

V. On painting. 

VI. On the uses, which the ancients made of their 

VII. Of the time and manner in which they were made. 

VIII. Of the periods which precede and follow the in- 
vention of sculpture, to the taking of Troy. 

IX. On the origin of sculpture. 

X. Its progress and character. 

XI. The progress in sculpture from the invention of 
basso relievo, to the time of Daedalus. 

XII. From the Trojan war to the death of Alexander the 

XIII. Progress of the arts from the time of Homer to the 
fiftieth Olympiad. 

XIV. From thence to the time of Phidias. 

XV View of the arts from Phidias to the hundred and 

twentieth Olympiad. 
XVI. On expression. 


XVII. On the senses and organized structure as connected 
with expression. 

XVIII. On ideal beauty. 

XIX. Historical remarks upon the origin of the Pelas- 
gians, Etruscans, Romans, and other ancient nations 
of Italy. 

Some few observations upon the uses, to which the vases 
themselves were applied, will not be improper, as it is a 
question, which must strike every one upon seeing a large 
collection of them. Astonished at the difference of form 
between the ancient vases, and those which we are accus- 
tomed to see, it is natural to inquire the causes of such 
difference, the use to which the vessels themselves are 
applied, and why they have been chosen in preference to 
such as we employ. The elegance of the figures, which are 
drawn upon many of them, the character of simplicity, 
which distinguishes them, and above all, the great genius 
of those artists who have invented them, besides the great 
variety of their forms, must excite a great desire to know 
every thing, that relates to them. 

We may divide the vases, with respect to the uses, to 
which the ancients applied them, into such as were em- 
ployed in sacred ceremonies, those that were used upon 
public occasions, and those which were applied to domestic 


purposes. And there are very few, perhaps none, of the 
vases, which cannot be classed within one of these three 

We may also make another distinction between the 
vases, appropriated to the temples, the lararia or domestic 
chapels, and the tombs, and those which were used in 
sacrifices and festivals. 

The Etruscans, the Greeks, and the Romans, followed 
two different methods with respect to their dead ; some 
they burnt, others they buried. The ashes of the former 
were carried from the funeral pile and put into vases, 
which were commonly placed in niches, made in the walls 
of the sepulchral apartments. The higher classes had their 
ashes put into marble urns highly sculptured. These urns 
were sometimes placed in mausoleums, such as that of 
Augustus. Besides these modes, subterraneous burying- 
places were common, and it is chiefly in these last, that the 
greatest number of vases are found. 

When the dead bodies were not burnt, they were 
enclosed in sarcophagi of marble, lead, or earth, and placed 
in vaults made for the purpose. In these also great num- 
bers of vases made of clay are found. 

They used other vases in public and private baths, in 
their public games, and in the domestic entertainments; 


and perhaps the larger vases were placed either for orna- 
ment or use in their gardens ; for, as far as we are 
acquainted with the houses of the ancients, their rooms 
were not sufficiently large to hold them without there being 
an inconvenience. 

In the excavations, which have been made at Hercula- 
neum, at Pompeia, and at Stabiae, there have been some 
found among great numbers of others, perfectly whole and 
sound, notwithstanding their extreme delicacy and brittle- 
ness, but among none, either of these or the vast quantity 
of fragments, has there been discovered one, which was 
painted. They were all black and varnished. This fact 
clearly shews, that at the time, in which these cities were 
destroyed, that is, about the time of Pliny's death, painted 
vases were very rare, if not unknown; though vases with 
black varnish were very common. 

The part of Italy, in which the greatest number of vases 

has been discovered, is from Capua to Nola ; those, which 

were made at Capua, are distinguished from the others by 

the finer quality of their materials, the excellence of their 

varnish, the elegance of their forms, and above all, by the 

beauty of their paintings, in which the style and manner of 

the best schools are evident. 

We may perhaps form a tolerably accurate opinion as to 



the age of a vase from the composition of the figures 
painted upon it, and upon this subject the following ob- 
servations may not be without their use. Isidorus informs 
us in the thirty-fifth chapter of his seventeenth book, that 
Clisthenes changed the form of the poles affixed to their 
cars ; before his time they used double poles, as mentioned 
by Socrates in his Electra, but Clisthenes reduced them to 
one. Supposing, therefore, we have a vase, on the painting 
of which there is a car with a double pole, we may fairly 
conclude, that it was prior to the time of Clisthenes, and 
hence judge of the period, when this change took place in 
the cars used in the Olympic games. We may also observe, 
that from certain general or individual customs, of which 
we know the time of their commencement or conclusion, 
and which we find depicted upon these vases, we may infer, 
that such vases did not exist prior to the commencement of 
such customs, nor probably were made long after the same 
customs had ceased from being in fashion. Thus, for 
instance, masks having been invented by Thespis, or, as 
some say, by ^Eschylus, those vases, on which the scene of 
a theatre is represented, and in which masks are introduced 
could not be prior to the invention itself, which was dis- 
covered, if by ^Eschylus, in the time of Themistocles, who 
lived about the two hundred and fourth year from the 


building of Rome, and if invented by Thespis, it was 
eighty years before. 

It is probable, that we are indebted to the Greeks of 
Campania and Apulia for the vases, which we find in 
those two provinces ; and although we have seen none with 
inscriptions purely Etruscan, we have nevertheless found 
some, which were made in Campania, where that language 
was spoken. It may be observed, that the paintings upon 
these vases were executed upon monocromic principles ; 
and being unassisted by the powerful effect of light and 
shade, the artists were unable to pursue the plans, which 
they might wish. They could not therefore form groups, 
without the figures being confounded with each other. 

Various causes, which it is unnecessary to detail in this 
place (see Fuseli's Lectures on Painting), concurred to pro- 
mote the arts among the Greeks. The following sketch of 
the rise and progress of painting, is taken from the work 
of that author. 

" Great as the advantages were, which the Greeks pos- 
sessed, it is not to be supposed, that nature deviated from 
her gradual progress in the developement of human facul- 
ties in their favour. Greek art had her infancy, but the 
Graces rocked the cradle, and Love taught her to speak. 
If every legend deserved our belief, the amorous tale of 


the Corinthian maid, who traced the shade of her depart- 
ing lover by the secret lamp, appeals to our sympathy to 
grant it, and leads us at the same time to some observations 
on the first essays of painting, and that linear method, 
which, though passed nearly unnoticed by Winckelman, 
seems to have continued as the basis of execution, even 
when the instrument for which it was chiefly adapted, had 
long been laid aside. 

" The etymology of the word used by the Greeks to 
express painting, being the same with that, which they em- 
ploy for writing, makes the similarity of the tool, materials, 
and method, almost certain. The tool was a style, or pen, of 
wood or metal ; the materials a board or a levigated plane 
of wood, metal, stone, or some prepared compound; the 
method, letters or lines. 

" The first essays of the art were skiagrams, simple outlines 
of a shade, similar to those, which have been introduced 
into vulgar use, by the students and parasites of physio- 
gnomy, under the name of Silhouettes ; without any other 
addition of character or feature, but what the profile of the 
object, thus delineated, could afford. The next step of the 
art was the monogram, outlines of figures without light or 
shade, but with some addition of the parts within the out- 
line, and from that to the monockrom, or paintings of a 


single colour on a plane or tablet, primed with white, and 
then covered with what they called punic wax, was first 
amalgamated with a tough resinous pigment, generally of a 
red, sometimes dark brown or black colour. In, or rather 
through, this thin inky ground, the outlines were traced 
with a firm but pliant style, which they called cestrum ; if 
the traced line happened to be incorrect, or wrong, it was 
gently effaced with a finger or with a sponge, and easily 
replaced by a fresh one. When the whole design was 
settled, and no farther alteration intended, it was suffered 
to dry, was covered to make it permanent, with a brown 
encaustic varnish, the lights were worked over again, and 
rendered more brilliant with a point still more delicate, 
according to the gradual advance from mere outlines to 
some indications, and at last to masses of light and shade, 
and from those to the superinduction of different colours, 
or the invention of the poly ckrom, which, by the addition of 
the pencil to the style, raised the mezzotinto or stained 
drawing to a legitimate picture, and at length produced that 
vaunted harmony, the magic scale of Grecian colour. 

" If this conjecture, for it is not more, on the process 
of linear painting, formed on the evidence and compa- 
rison of passages always unconnected, and frequently con- 
tradictory, be founded in fact, the rapturous astonishment 


at the supposed momentaneous production of the Hercu- 
lanean dancers, and on the earthen vases of the ancients 
will cease ; or rather, we shall no longer suffer ourselves to 
be deluded by palpable impossibility of execution ; on a 
ground of levigated lime, or on potter's ware, no velocity 
or certainty attainable by human hands, can conduct a full 
pencil with that degree of evenness equal from beginning 
to end, with which we see those figures executed, or if it 
could, would ever be able to fix the line on the glassy 
surface without its flowing : to make the appearances we 
see possible, we must have recourse to the linear process 
that has been described, and transfer our admiration to 
the perseverance, the correctness of principle, the elegance 
of taste that conducted the artist's hand, without presuming 
to arm it with contradictory powers ; the figures which he 
drew and we admire, are not the magic produce of a 
winged pencil, they are the result of gradual improvement, 
exquisitely finished monochroms." 

It is now necessary to conclude this introduction. The 
remarks it contains are but crudely put together ; those 
who wish for more information upon these subjects, must 
consult M. D'Hancarville and other writers upon ancient 

The chief purport of this work was to form an elegant 


and chaste selection of antique designs, by which to spread 
the knowledge of true and legitimate taste, and also to give 
such slight explanations of them as the subjects afforded. 
And if this object shall be attained, in however small a 
degree, the Editor will not think his time has been mis- 




1 he subject of this Plate, which is taken from the Fourth 
Volume of Sir William Hamilton's large work, has baffled 
the inquiries of M. D'Hancarville, and indeed seems to be 
inexplicable, otherwise than as one of the genii, and per- 
haps of the same kind as that in Plate II. 


This genius bears in one hand a patera, containing the indi- 
cation of the sun, or Apollo ; the consecration of which is 
denoted by the fillet, which is attached to it. Under the figure 
another symbol of the god appears in the globe, and a third 
is placed on one side. There cannot, therefore, be any doubt, 
that this figure is intended to represent one of the genii 
belonging to Apollo ; and the string of pearls round his thigh 
denotes this to be a genius, that presides over augury. 


r * ] 


There were at Athens certain festivals held in honour, 
as some say, of Bacchus, and others of Diana. They were 
called Canephoria, and at the celebration of them it was 
customary either for youths or virgins of a marriageable 
age, to carry baskets, which contained the different things 
necessary for the sacrifices. These were called Canephori 
or Canephorae, according to their sex ; but it is supposed 
they were chiefly females. There formerly existed many 
statues of them ; Cicero in his fourth oration against 
Verres, states, that there were two in bronze, made by 
Paracletes. — This outline, which is copied from a painting 
upon one of the earliest Greek vases, represents one of 
these ministers, and is very curious from ascertaining the 
action and dress of such as were consecrated to the service 
of the gods. 

Upon the original vase, the figure itself is black, upon a 
reddish ground. 


In this Plate we may evidently discover the character of 
Bacchus ; he is crowned with myrtle, and is offering a 
branch of sesamum upon an altar. He holds a pastoral staff 
in one hand. This was probably the origin of the lituus, 
the use of which was perhaps introduced into Italy by the 








Pi, 6 

[3 ] 

Pelasgians ; when these, becoming as it were Etruscans, 
communicated it to the Romans, with whom it soon 
became, as it now is, an emblem of the priesthood, and 
was carried by the augurs. 


The domestic sacrifice, which is represented in this paint- 
ing, is worthy of attention. One of the figures seems 
evidently to represent Plato ; he is holding a patera, from 
which he is scattering incense upon the altar. The staff 
which he holds in his other hand, has a flower upon 
it, which resembles what we call the flower de luce, or 
Jleur de lis. Upon the vase itself, also, this forms the orna- 
ment round the upper part. The female seems to be 
pouring some liquor upon the altar from the prasfericulum, 
a vessel used in sacrifices ; and upon the side of the altar 
we may observe a knot, by which they fastened the bands, 
or fillets, upon the altar of the gods. There is an expres- 
sion of great nobleness and gravity, united with much 
simplicity, in this design. 


This is probably the figure of a priestess of Bacchus, and 
seems dressed in a bassaride, a species garment, said to 

[ 4 ] 

have been worn long before by this god in his expedition 
into India. She carries a branch of sesamum in her hand. 
This painting is on a very small vase. 


This beautiful little painting exhibits a young female 
standing before an altar with a bcetilium, which she 
appears to be consulting. Democritus, as mentioned by 
Pliny in his 3 7th Book, says that this stone, which is also 
called hieromenon, was in high estimation in the art of 
divination. There is also another sort of stone similar to 
flint or silex, which is called eumeces. It is found in 
Bactriana, formerly a part of the Persian empire, in which 
magic and astrology were much cultivated. When this 
stone was placed under the head, it is said to have produced 
dreams, equal in effect and certainty to the oracles them- 
selves. This female seems to be expecting a similar 


This painting represents a scene in a comedy ; and the 
pine-apple placed between the two figures may be intended 
to shew, that these scenic entertainments are consecrated 
to Bacchus, at the celebration of whose rites they were 
first represented. The actor, who is dancing to the music 


PI, 8 

[ 5 ] 

of the double flute, is dressed like a slave, and has a torch 
in each hand. 

The mask, which the actor wears, is that of Sosius, and 
was formed to represent the countenance of Socrates ; and 
it bears the same character as that, which Michael Angelo 
designed for the harlequins of the Italian comedy. The 
masks for the characters of Pantaloon, Punchinello, and 
the Doctor (all Italian characters), have each their ori- 
ginal among the ancients. Some say, that Thespis in- 
vented the mask, but Suidas ascribes the invention to 
Cherites of Athens, while Aristotle attributes it to the 
Megarians of Sicily ; and the origin of comedy he gives to 
those of Attica. 

The double flute, which was of very early invention, 
some say it was by Minerva, was sometimes made of the 
bones of the stag, but more commonly of brass or copper, 
or of small pieces of bone or ivory fastened together with 
plates of metal. From this design it is observable, that 
women sometimes appeared in these scenes without masks. 
As Suidas says, that Phrynicus, who obtained the prize in 
the sixty-seventh Olympiad, first introduced female cha- 
racters on the stage, it is clear, that this painting is later 
than the time of that poet, who is supposed to be a pupil 
of Thespis. 

The expression of this design is very remarkable ; in 
the attitude of the arm of the flute player, we may observe the 

[ 6 ] 

constraint, which is produced by the difficulty of walking and 
playing at the same time. The direction of her eyes shews 
her attention to the dancer, that the cadence maybe exact. 
And in his action there is a degree of comic effect, well suited 
to the mask, he wears. 


The subject of this Plate is unknown, at least there is no 
account of it in Sir William Hamilton's work. It is a 
simple but very beautiful composition, and the attitudes of 
both the figures is pleasing and elegant. 


This design is said to represent Apollo in pursuit of 
Daphne ; he is in a travelling dress, with the bina hastilia 
and the sword under his arm, as is usual in the heroic 
characters. This arrangement of his dress seems to indicate, 
that he appeared to Daphne simply in the character of a 


We have been unable to discover the individual characters 
of this design, in which the actions both of the horse and 
figures engaged in battle are finely imagined and well 







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[ 7 ] 


The subject of this Plate is a very curious one. It seems 
to represent an inhabitant of the banks of the river Ari- 
maspias, attacked by two griffons. They inhabited the 
northern part of Scythia, and are said to have had but one 
eye. They were continually fighting with the griffons, a 
sort of monster, whose employment is said to be that of 
collecting gold from the sands of rivers. D'Hancarville 
says, that it was these animals who were constantly attack- 
ing the Arimaspians, and preventing them from carrying 
the gold from their mines. 


The subject of this Plate is probably that of Penelope. She 
is sitting in her chamber, as is shewn by the fillet ; and it 
is supposed, that she has just finished dressing, as the 
female behind her holds the mirror, which she has been 
using. The other female holds some implements of work 
which the princess appears to be about to resume. The 
simplicity and beauty of this composition made such an 
impression upon Angelica Kauffman, that with very little 
change she has taken it for the subject of one of her best 
pictures. And indeed the designs upon all the ancient 
vases, furnish a variety of subjects for the pencil. 


■ ■[/] 

Upon this vase there is the Greek word KolKoq 
written, signifying beautiful ; and the same word is fre- 
quently found upon those vases, which are most perfect 
and most highly finished. Mazzocchi has made several 
remarks upon this word in a dissertation upon the ancient 
vases, which were formerly in the possession of Mastrillo, 
and are now in the British Museum. 


The subject of this design is supposed to be Ariadne. She 
has a ferula in her hand, as a symbol of Bacchus. This 
princess is remarkable for her hair, for which reason 
Homer gave her the epithet of " the beautiful-haired 
Ariadne." Aratus says, that the diadem, which she wore, 
was put among the number of the stars. This is probably 
the reason of the figure of a star placed near the female 
genius of Ariadne. This genius holds a patera filled 
with the grain of the sesamum ; and we may also observe 
some of the same upon the column, as symbolical of the 
wife of Bacchus, of whom also there is another column as 
a symbol, upon which a female figure is leaning. The 
circle, drawn in the centre of the instrument this figure 
holds in her hand, evidently shews, that it is not a 
mirror, although it has otherwise so much the appearance 
of one. 

P114 . 

PI, 1,5 

[9 ] 


This Plate seems to represent a female, about to make an 
offering of an animal, which resembles a rabbit or hare, to 
a column, as a symbol of Bacchus ; the fillet, which is 
placed immediately over this column, shews, that it is con- 
secrated. These animals were offered both to Ceres and 
Bacchus, because they were equally destructive in corn- 
fields and in the vineyard ; this also was probably the 
motive among the ancients for sacrificing the sow and the 


This genius has in one hand the vase containing lustral 
water, and in the other the mysterious vase of Iacchus, the 
sacred purposes of which are denoted by the cestus, that 
is placed over it ; by the side of it is the symbol of the 
moon, or Ceres. The small branch of olive, which is visible 
between the feet of the genius, is a distinguishing indica- 
tion of the mystic scenes of Eleusis, which renders the 
idea probable, that all the genii, represented in these 
designs, are copied from those, who performed such parts 
in the feasts of Bacchus and Ceres. It is well known, that 
the priests, who attended these ceremonies, were dressed to 
represent Mercury, Apollo, and Diana ; it is therefore very 
probable, that others, who assisted, personated the fauns, 


[ 10 ] 

satyrs, and genii, which are so often introduced on the 
vases. The latter usually have their heads dressed like 
those of the women. Apuleius, who was witness of these 
feasts, says, that in the disguises, which they used, the men 
wore socks with gilt sandals, silken robes ornamented with 
precious stones, their hair tied on the top of the head, and 
resembling the women as much in their dress as in their 
effeminate manner. 

This is a satisfactory reason for frequent confusion of 
sexes, which appears in the genii, and which, no doubt, 
denotes, that they were considered as midway between the 
gods and men, and therefore were distinguished by a cha- 
racter partaking of neither. In order to give an adequate 
idea of these genii, in their representations they chose the 
youths at that age, when they have not acquired the robust- 
ness of manhood, and resemble a beautiful girl ; to increase 
the similitude, their hair was raised and tied on the head 
in imitation of the Greek girls, which rendered them ex- 
actly what we see on the vases, with the exception of the 
wings, which were easily fastened to their shoulders. 

Various other authorities corroborate the opinion, that 
the ancients represented their gods and goddesses, as well 
as their attendants, by such persons as were best suited to 
personify them, and there can be no doubt, that these 
designs are representations of some of the feasts and 
mysteries of that age. 

in 17 




[ 11 ] 


Whenever a female was represented sitting upon a stool, 
it was always a mark of dignity among the ancients, and 
when to this was joined the patera, or bowl, held near the 
head, it became a sign of some divinity. By these marks 
we may know, that this painting represents Ceres, with 
two of her initiated priestesses near her : one of them 
carries the cystus with the praefericulum. The goddess 
herself is holding a mirror. In almost all the processions, 
which were instituted in honour of Ceres, some of the 
mystics, or initiated, walked before her and carried mirrors 
fastened to their backs, while others attended with ivory 
combs to put her head dress in order, and attend upon her, 
as the initiated are seen to do in this Plate. Nothing can 
be more elegant and graceful than the different attitudes and 
actions of these three figures, while the whole forms a 
composition at once simple and beautiful. 


The subject of this Plate is unknown. 

[ 12 ] 


Pliny in his 34th book, 28th chapter, mentions, that among 
the works of Hegias and Ctesilaus, two famous sculptors, 
there was one called Pueri Celetizontes, or youths contesting 
a race on horseback ; and it is not therefore very impro- 
bable, that this Plate is a design from one of those artists. The 
column may have been placed there either by the sculptor 
or the painter, in imitation of those in Olympia, in the val- 
ley, or recess, called Aids. Pausanias speaks of many statues, 
which were erected in this place in honour of the Olympic 
conquerors, and each has a column by the side of it. These 
columns were perhaps erected for the following reason, 
given in the words of Pliny : Golumnarum ratio erat attolli 
supra cateros mortales. It may not also be unlikely, that the 
column in this Plate may be intended to mark the starting 
point, as that in Plate XLI. shews the termination of the 


When Jupiter was in love with Semele, Juno through 
jealousy wished to destroy her rival ; for this purpose she 
transformed herself to one of the female attendants of this 
young princess, and persuaded her, that it would be proper 
and becoming in her to have Jupiter visit her with the 
same pomp and ceremony, with which he went to seejuno. 

PI ,19. 





Semele suffered herself to be seduced by this insidious 
counsel, and imperiously commanded Jupiter to do her 
that favour, which would in fact destroy her. This god 
therefore presented himself before her, armed with his 
thunder and lightning ; but Semele could not support the 
brilliancy and glory of his appearance ; it brought on a 
premature illness, and her death was the consequence. 

It is thus, that this fable is related by Diodorus ; but 
Apollodorus says, that Jupiter, being unable to refuse 
Semele any request she made him, came into her palace in 
a car, surrounded with his thunderbolts. It is most probable, 
that this is the subject of the present Plate, where Jupiter 
is mounted on a car with the thunder in his hand, as his 
countenance is mild and pleased, like that of a lover, and 
his head has a wreath of myrtle, the sacred plant of 


Among the ancients the women were never accustomed to 
sit, or recline upon the beds or sofas with the men, except 
in the different feasts, which were dedicated to any of the 
gods ; hence Cicero, in one of his orations, makes a person 
say, that it was not a custom among the Greeks for the two 
sexes to mix together at their feasts. The fillet suspended 
near the female, who is playing on the double flute, with 
the roses employed on this occasion, seem evidently to 

.[ 14 ] 

shew, that this repast was in honour of Venus in one of her 
numerous festivals. There is no old painting extant, which 
better shews the manner, in which the ancients sat or re- 
clined at their feasts, than the present Plate. 


There is no account of the subject of this Plate given by 
M. D'Hancarville, nor have we been able to discover any 
thing satisfactory about it. 


That this is a representation of a feast of Venus, is discer- 
nible by the dove, with the fillet placed near it, as well as 
by the branches of myrtle and the pearl girdles, which the 
goddess and her priestesses wear. Two symbols are placed 
on the symbolic pillar of Bacchus ; one is a pine apple, 
indicative of that god as well as of Cybele, the other may 
probably be the bcetilus in the shape of a small urn, which 
denotes Venus ; the armed figure signifies the god of war, 
whose connexion with the goddess, to whom this feast is 
consecrated, needs no explanation ; she was often repre- 
sented in armour, particularly, according to Pausanias, in 
her temples at Lacedemon and Corinth ; several gems cor- 
roborate this testimony. 

TP1.2 2 

Ij ^JWf^MplW^ar^an^siT^iM plI 

Pi. 2 3 

PI. 24 



Dancing, among the ancients, was perhaps a matter of 
greater importance than with us. Lucian gives a long ac- 
count of it, and both Plato and Xenophon assert, that it was 
regarded as a matter of great consequence with respect to 
manners, and even of use in war ; and was therefore 
worthy of the serious attention of legislators. Plutarch also 
informs us, that the Athenians bestowed rewards upon the 
best dancers, and in the celebration of certain festivals, 
Lycurgus ordered the Lacedemonian girls to dance naked. 
And it was rather a common custom (see Anthologia, 
book iv. chap. 25, ep. 6), for the dancers to fasten their 
robes round their waist by means of a girdle. This was 
probably the case in a particular dance called Ko%8o£ or 
■2aTvqt?aii in which the actions were not the most decent. 

The present figure however is of a different nature, and 
she seems to be performing a serious dance, in which ele- 
gance of attitude is the principal aim. She is dressed in a 
very modest manner, and seems to be in the act of letting 
fall some instrument, of which we are now ignorant both 
of the name and use. The column, near which she is dan- 
cing, may mean to shew, that she is in a portico or a theatre, 
where dances were performed ; it may also be a sign of 
Bacchus, and the dance she is executing may have a relation 
to some of the festivals in honour of that god and of Ceres. 

[ 16 ] 


This beautiful painting consists of a genius supporting 
himself upon a symbolical column . If beauty and elegance 
be marks of goodness, this must be the good genius called 
Agathodemon. The Athenians erected statues to him; 
and according to Pausanias there was a chapel in Lebadia 
dedicated to him, in conjunction with Fortune, of whom 
perhaps this column may be symbolical. 


Throughout the whole series of Plates in Sir William 
Hamilton's large work there are a vast number, which 
have no explanation whatsoever to them. The grounds 
even of conjecture seem to be wanting. In some instances 
we have endeavoured to elucidate subjects, upon which 
M. D'Hancarville has been silent ; in the present we 
must follow his example, for simple as this composition is, 
there seems no clue, by which to lead us to a knowledge 
of its meaning. 


It is related in the fourth book of Diodorus Siculus, that 
Atlas, the brother of Saturn, and also, as some mythologists 

P1.2 6 








gpraprapg stotootot^^ 


















assert, of Hesperus, had some daughters who were called 
after his own name Atlantides ; or Hesperides, after that of 
Hesperis their mother, the daughter of Hesperus, and the 
wife, as well as niece, of Atlas. 

The golden apples, which grew in the garden of the 
Hesperides, were guarded by a serpent. " As the At- 
lantides, or Hesperides, were," says Diodorus, " possessed 
of great beauty and wisdom, Busiris, king of Egypt, 
merely from the reputation they had acquired, formed the 
design of becoming master of them ; and he ordered a band 
of pirates to repair to their country, seize them, and bring 
them to him. These pirates, having discovered the daugh- 
ters of Atlas diverting themselves in their garden, seized 
them and fled towards their ships with the utmost speed, 
on board of which they were compelling them to embark ; 
when Hercules, having surprised them on the shore, and 
having been informed by the virgins of the misfortune 
that had happened to them, killed their ravishers, and 
restored the distressed daughters to their father. 

These three Plates are all taken from the same vase, and 
are in fact one complicated design, continuing entirely 
round the vase ; they represent Hercules and his com- 
panions in the gardens of the Hesperides. In Plate 
XXVII. the god, known by his club and the skin of the 
Nemean lion, upon which he is seated, is waiting ready 
to receive the golden apples, which the daughters of Atlas 


[ 18 ] 

are about to offer him. This hero is with a party of his Argo- 
nauts, with whom he landed on the coast of Africa. The 
rest of his associates are supposed by the painter to be on 
board the Argo. In Plate XXVIII. Atlas is sitting hold- 
ing a sort of sceptre, the flower on the top of which is indi- 
cative of the family of Uranus, and the relationship, which 
connects them with Jupiter. The daughters of Atlas were 
seven in number ; after their deaths they were placed among 
the constellations, and called the Pleiades, from one of the 
names of their mother, Pleione. As six stars only appear, 
unless when the sky is extremely clear, and then the 
seventh is dull, the fable says, that six of the daughters 
were married to gods, but the other, Merope, married a 
mortal, Sisyphus, king of Corinth, and therefore she is 
hidden. This is explained in a passage in the fourth 
book of Ovid's Fasti. 

Hyginus gives the same account, but adds, that others 
say it was Electra, another of the daughters, who concealed 
herself through grief. Inconsolable at the destruction of 
Troy, and being unable to support the misfortunes which 
had happened to her son Dardanus, while the gaiety and 
dancing of her sisters disgusted her, she withdrew into the 
arctic circle, where she was seen for a long time in great 
affliction, and with dishevelled hair ; hence she derived 
the name of Cometes. From this we may fairly infer, that 
it is Electra whom we see in Plate XXVIII. with her 

[ 19 ] 

head hanging down, as if she were absorbed in grief. The 
veil which she wears, and which falls a great way down 
her back, is spangled over with stars. In Plate XXVII. 
the figure immediately behind Hercules seems to be 
Jason ; the artist may perhaps have placed him there, in 
order to shew, that it was this hero, who commanded the 
Argonauts, when Hercules returned. Merope, the youngest 
daughter of Atlas seems to be endeavouring to conceal her- 
self near her mother Hesperis. Those, who are standing 
near the tree round which the serpent is entwined, are 
supposed to be Taygeta and Alcyone ; the former was the 
mother of Lacedemon, the founder of the Spartan kingdom ; 
the latter had two sons by Neptune. The posterity of 
these two sisters exceeded, in power and glory, that of all 
the others, except Maia, of whom we shall speak hereafter. 
Hence probably the artist placed them in the most conspi- 
cuous part of the vase. 

In Plate XXVIII. we see Atlas seated, and it seems to 
be Orpheus, who is conversing with him ; at least such is the 
conjecture of M. D'Hancarville. The female figure sitting 
down on the left of Plate XXIX. appears to be Maia ; she 
is distinguished beyond her sister, because she was the 
mother of a god, Mercury. The other sitting figure is con- 
jectured to be Typhis, the son of Neptune ; he was pilot 
of the Argo, and therefore, unlike all the rest of his com- 
panions, he appears without arms. All the other figures 

[ 20 ] 

have had different names assigned to them, but they must 
be allowed to be founded upon the slightest conjecture. 

These designs are probably as beautiful as any that 
remain upon the vases of the ancients, and that which 
contains them is esteemed as one of the most valuable. 
The different figures possess in the highest degree the 
various marks of grandeur, strength, grace, elegance, and 
simplicity, and the compositions themselves are extremely 
beautiful ; and there is so much purity and true taste 
throughout the whole, that they can never be studied 
without advantage 


This design consists of two figures, one of which carries 
upon the cystus a globe, as an indication of the sun: the 
fillet, which is in this Plate, is probably for the purpose of 
wrapping up this globe in. 


The subject of this Plate is unknown. 


The two females, represented in this design, have each 
in their hand the symbols of the sun and moon ; the 


P13 2 

PI. 5 3 

t 21 ] 

ornaments round which shew them to be distinct from the 
mirrors, which are sacred to these deities. 


In this painting we may observe two indications of 
Bacchus, by means of the globe or sphere. Attached to 
the wall on one side, there seems to be a sort of cupboard, 
called tabernaculum ; and the fillet with two strings to 
each end, is for the purpose of being fastened round the 
globe, which has no handle. 


This painting seems to represent some of the rites or orgies 
of Bacchus. The priestess is playing upon the double 
flute, invented by Minerva. The genius is probably 
Acratus, one of those, who, according to Pausanias, gene- 
rally accompanied Bacchus. 

In the dancers we easily recognise, both by the actions 
of their bodies, and by the torches which they carry and 
use in these rites, the conduct of men who counterfeit, or 
are supposed to be insane, or rather possessed. Fabretti 
has given us an account of a decree of the senate, which 
forbid, under the severest punishment, any celebration of 
bacchanalian mysteries throughout Italy. As this edict is 

[ 22 ] 

dated in the 5 66 year of Rome, it is probable that the vases, 
which represent these ceremonies, were made previous to 
this period, which is exactly forty-five years after the 
taking of Capua. Pacula Minia, who was the priestess, 
when the bacchanals were proscribed by the senate, was 
by birth a Campanian a native of Capua; and what is 
very remarkable is, that the vases made in Campania are 
those, upon which these mysteries are most frequently 
represented ; and this seems to confirm the opinion, that 
the manufacture of vases ceased about the time of the 
destruction of Capua, and that Ebon, the tributary god of 
many towns in Campania, was the same as Bacchus, in 
honour of whom these rites were celebrated, and for the 
use of which these vases seem to have been consecrated. 


This seems to represent a domestic ceremony in honour of 
some god, whose symbol is held by one of the females. 


One of the three figures, of which this beautiful design 
is composed, seems to represent Volumnia, the mother of 
Coriolanus, namely, the one that is seated. Hersilia, her 
sister-in-law, stands before her, and Valeria, the sister of 




£•:%»%«%- &»as»%«%-%*%-&-^-^»%-?i 







t-^-«-%-Sfe*ife*&-?3?-^-%'3S- %-%-%-! 



the illustrious Valerius Publicola, seems to be introduced 
by Hersilia. Valeria is holding up the end of her robe, which 
adds much dignity to her action, and is well adapted to the 
employment she is engaged in. Her arm is extended in a 
suppliant manner, and she casts a serious but interesting 
look upon Volumnia, and seems to say, " Volumnia, it 
is for the Republic, it is for your household gods, it is 
for the salvation of that Rome, in which you drew your 
first breath, that I come to entreat you to soften the heart 
of your son, who is already encamped within sight of our 
walls, and who, at the head of the Volscian army, whom he 
has enraged against us by his persuasions, has refused to 
hear even the supplications of the people, the senate, and 
the pontiffs." The inflection of her knee shews, that she 
is uncertain of the success she shall meet with, and we 
may observe in her countenance, at least as far as the 
smallness of the profile will admit of it, the nobleness of 
her motives, and a hope of success, though not untinged 
with the fear, that she may not obtain the object of her 
wishes. Hersilia stands without motion, but her counte- 
nance expresses her anxiety for the success of Valeria's 
petition. When Volumnia had heard her request, she 
stretches forth her arms, and at once feeling both for her 
country and her son, seems by her action to say, " Alas, 
why have they compelled him to declare himself the 
enemy of this city, of which he was the support." At the 

[ 24 ] 

same time her foot is seen to have been drawn back, with 
the design of getting up, and going to seek Coriolanus. 

Nothing is more simple than the design of this little 
painting, , and yet nothing can be more eloquent. The 
attitudes are grand, the heads are full of character, and the 
actions correspond with the sentiments. It is probable, 
both from the sitting attitude of Volumnia, as well as the 
lower interior border upon the original vase, which is not 
engraved with this outline, but is seen in the external 
upper border of Plate XLIX. that these Roman matrons 
sought the mother of Coriolanus in her house. The border 
in its form represents the back-bone or spine of a fish, and 
is the same as the Italians call spina di pesce. This very 
much resembles the shape in the Roman fragments of the 
bricks, so called. 


This design appears to allude to the nuptial bath, as the 
bride holds in her hand a mirror, and a box containing 
the nuptial presents ; the pronuba has a band or girdle in 
hers, and the pronubus holds the unguentarium and the 
strigile. Two genii, which are probably intended to be 
descriptive of Hymen, have each branches of myrtle in 
their hands. 

Ti.3 7 

PI, 3 8 



I : 

iHfflrafflfflmwffluimiifflL 1 




[ « ] 


The subject of this Plate is probably connected with the 
last ; but it is so obscure, as to be almost inexplicable, or 
at best founded upon mere conjecture. 


It is perhaps very difficult to discover the meaning of 
this painting. It has been conjectured to be Vulcan pre- 
senting to Thetis, or Venus, the arms, which had been 
forged for Achilles, or for ./Eneas ; but it must be owned, 
that the Pegasus, represented upon the shield, or buckler, 
renders this explanation very doubtful. 4 


Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, wore the girdle of 
Mars, as an emblem of the country she reigned over: 
Admeta, the daughter of Euristheus, became envious of this 
honour, and wished to possess the girdle. In consequence 
of this desire, Hercules received orders to procure it. 
This is the ninth of the labours, which this god under- 
took at the request of his brother. He immediately went 
to the banks of the river Thermodoon, which the Amazons 
inhabited. Juno, always at variance with, and hating 


[ 26 ] 

Hercules, had recourse to her usual cunning, and caused 
the girdle, which he would have obtained as a gift, to 
become the cause of a most obstinate conflict between 
Hercules and the warlike Amazons. 

This Plate is supposed to represent Hippolyta engaged 
with Hercules, in which combat, according to Apollodorus, 
the Amazonian queen lost her life. The meaning of the 
ray of the sun over Hercules and the horse is uncertain : 
it may denote the illustrious birth of the hero : the 
Chaldeans called the planet Mars, Hercules : and there is 
also a constellation under the same name. It is probably 
one of these three things, that it is intended to denote. 


Perhaps there is no one of the designs upon any ancient 
vase, of which the subject is more obvious than the present ; 
that of a successful candidate in a horse race, dismounting 
to receive the wreath as a reward of his exertions. The 
statue of some famous sculptor, probably served as the 
original of this painting. There are only two circumstances, 
that seem to require explanation ; the shield or buckler, 
and the short staff in the man's hand. It is well known, 
that in the public games at Argos, which were celebrated 
at the feast in honour of Juno, called the feast of Hecatombs, 
on account of the employment of an hundred oxen to 


~o~i i n 

[ 27 ] 


pen the procession, the conquerors obtained a buckler as 
their reward ; but it is not so certain, that there were any 
horse races there. These two circumstances must therefore 
be still left for the conjectures of the learned. 


The subject of this Plate is supposed to be Telemachus 
in the house of Menelaus at Sparta. During the travels 
of Telemachus, to gain some information of his father, 
this young prince, accompanied by Pisistratus, the son 
of Nestor, went to Pylos. Menelaus, being acquainted 
with the character of his guests, related to them, after their 
repast, many of the events in the life of Ulysses. This 
recital plunged Telemachus into the deepest grief, and 
made so strong an impression upon all those, who heard it, 
that they shed tears. When Helen heard the names of these 
strangers, she ran to see them, and even wished to give 
Telemachus some further account of Ulysses ; affected at 
the marks of sorrow he evinced, she prepared a liquor, 
which had the power of banishing, for at least four- 
and-twenty hours, every trace of grief in the human mind. 
She ordered one of her women to present the bowl, and 
persuaded him to take it. It is not easy to determine, 
whether the figure, that is leaning upon a staff, be Menelaus, 
or not. Telemachus is dressed as described by Homer. 

[ 28 ] 


This Plate in fact comprises two distinct paintings, which 
are upon the same vase, but on opposite sides of it, and the 
column, which is here placed in the centre of the two, 
belongs in reality to the one on the left hand. The three 
figures on the right are supposed to represent Apollo, 
Diana, and one of her nymphs. The first is known by his 
laurel crown, he has also a bow in his hand ; Diana is on 
the left, with a doe by her side, while one of her nymphs 
is standing between them with another bow. The other 
painting on the left is supposed to represent a poet and 
musician, to whom a third figure is presenting a sphere, 
an indication of the god of poetry, whose praises he pro- 
poses to them to celebrate, as they are supposed to have 
already done at Delphi. This god is also represented by 
the symbolical column, seen in the middle of the plate. 
The points, which appear upon its shafts, may serve 
perhaps to point out the solar days. In these two paint- 
ings then, it is supposed that the three modes of represent- 
ing Apollo are discoverable, by indications, by symbolical 
columns, and by figures. 


The subject of this Plate is unknown. 




^gasEgsEj^^ ^roig^^g^^^^^^AsrogiS^^^sBg 


unununununununununununununu ununununu nu ununu ununun 





[ 29 ] 


In this elegant composition Ceres is represented sitting on 
a chair, and holding in one hand an instrument which was 
probably used in some department of agriculture, by the 
Greeks. The mystic vannus is placed between her and the 
genius, who is holding a crown, which indicates one of the 
priests of the Themosphori, who was called the crown- 
bearer ; the book, which this genius presents to the god- 
dess, is perhaps that, which contained the laws formed by 
her for men. The commentator of Theocritus informs us, 
that the Athenian women carried the books of the law on 
their heads, at the festivals in honour of Ceres, and went 
in great pomp through the sacred road, which led from 
Athens to Eleusis. The territory belonging to these cities 
was separated by the river Cephisus, over which was a 
bridge ; the procession halted on this bridge, and the 
column seen in this Plate represents the altar, on which 
the sacred materials were placed, It is to denote this 
pause, that the priestess is leaning on this column, and 
holding the mirror, which is sacred to Ceres. 


This sweet design is supposed to represent some female, 
being adorned either for the purpose of going to the theatre, 

[ 30 ] 

or to assist in some religious ceremony ; it is well known, 
that in both it was customary for them to wear crowns. 
Nothing can exceed the beauty of this composition. 


The ancient monuments both of the Greeks and the 
Etruscans, evidently prove, that a variety of places, both 
public and private, towns, fountains, baths, seasons, men, 
women, and even the gods themselves, had their particular 
genii. Horace says that he had one, who presided over the 
star of his birth, 

Sic genius natale comes qui temperat astrum, 

Naturae Deus humanae. 

and Seneca in his 110th epistle says, that the disciples of 
Zeno adopted the same opinion. Hesiod believed, that 
those, who lived in the golden age, were become good 
genii, and still inhabited the earth, though invisible. These 
mystical ideas, which appear to be founded upon the im- 
mortality of the soul, passed from Phoenicia into Greece 
and Italy. There they remained, and both increased the 
superstition of the people, and multiplied almost to infinity 
the histories of apparitions and ghosts, both of the dead 
and of the gods, which by means of the marvellous, laid a 
strong hold of, and greatly interested credulous minds. 
It is perhaps an apparition of this sort, which the 

PI. 47 


present plate exhibits. Some persons have thought, that 
they discovered here Chrysosthemis and Clytemnestra 
offering presents to the tomb of Agamemnon, which is 
represented by the column, upon which one of the females 
supports herself. The genius would be that of Agamemnon, 
who appears to the alarmed Clytemnestra, as is repre- 
sented both by Sophocles and Eschylus in the dream they 
suppose that princess to have had. Whether this be the 
true explanation or not, it is evident, that the design itself 
is full of grace and expression, and we can no where find 
a grander or more noble figure than that of the genius, 
which evidently marks the period of good taste among the 
Greeks. Perhaps it may be the genius of Iphigenia in 
Tauris. We must then suppose it the dream in the first 
scene of Euripides. The genius of this unfortunate prin- 
cess appeared to her, and shewed her a column in her 
paternal house with the appearance and voice of a human 
creature. She imagined, that this dream announced the 
death of Orestes. Alarmed at this, she immediately paid 
the funeral rites to the memory of her brother, as if he was 
actually dead. The genius is holding a vase for the liba- 
tions, Iphigenia seems shocked at his presence, and one 
of her attendants partaking of the alarm of her mistress, is 
supporting herself upon a sort of tomb. 

[ 32 ] 


This Plate seems to represent a sacrifice to Bacchus, 
which is the more probable from the figures being crowned 
with wreaths of myrtle. The figure next to that, which is 
preparing a libation on the altar, may be supposed to bear 
a symbol of the god, to which a fillet is attached. 


The vase, from which this design was taken, was conse- 
crated to Bacchus, and the design itself represents a festival 
in honour of that god. The cuirasses, we may observe, 
are similar to those worn by the conductors of the cars, 
that are used in the circus ; the buckler is the same as that 
of the Argians; and the crown, fillet, and flowers are 
symbolic of the fete. The rhytion also and crater, which 
are on the ground, were species of vases consecrated to 
Bacchus. It is observable, that the action in all the figures 
is similar and equal, and they appear to move in true 
cadence ; the men seem to have a sort of basket upon 
their heads ; that upon the head of the female is well 
balanced. One of the men has a torch, the other two pikes 
or javelins, such as was required by Xenophon, that 
having thrown one against the enemy, the other might 
either serve for his defence, or to continue the attack. 


KL. 49 


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This manner of being armed was common to both horse 
and foot. 

The vine leaf in the hand of the bacchante is emblema- 
tical of the god. 


This design represents a festival in honour of Bacchus, 
and consists of both sexes, who seldom or never were 
together except in the feasts, consecrated to the gods. There 
is a genius attending them, with the vine branch hanging 
over their heads. 


We may discover in this design the remains of two indi- 
cations of Bacchus ; the one is the vine leaf, and the 
other is a globe within a disk, and held by the figure of an 
Acratus, the genius of drunkards. From the size of this 
relic, it must not be taken for, or confounded with, a 
mirror. The cupboard, or tabemaculum, whence this has 
been taken, is still open ; and two branches of myrtle are 
placed upon a flat dish or crater, which is in the hands of 
a female figure ; she has also in her other hand one of the 
same crowns or wreaths as the genius holds ; these are 
called lemniscata. The other indications, which are in 
this design, ought perhaps to belong rather to Ceres. 

[ 34 ] 


The composition, design, and figures on this vase are 
excellent ; the subject, which it represents, is evidently 
the victory of Bellerophon over the Chimaera, as it is 
described by Homer . Both Plutarch and Hyginus relate this 
story in a different way, and they pretend, that Minerva 
lent the horse Pegasus to Bellerophon ; the symbol of the 
serpent upon the haunch of the Pegasus, as belonging to 
Apollo, the god of medicine, evidently proves, that the 
smallest and most minute circumstances introduced upon 
the sacred vases, have their appropriate object; the sceptre, 
which is in the hand of Iobates, marks the regal authority ; 
and, probably, the foliage of the ivy, embroidered on the 
sleeve of his robe, serves to shew, that he was also a priest 
of Bacchus, as in Greece the kings were often the pontiffs, 
or chief-priests. Bellerophon is represented with his head 
covered ; and it is observable, that upon these vases 
foreigners and travellers are commonly represented in the 
same manner, or with a hat fastened at the back of the 
head. The vase itself, from which this design is taken, has 
an ornament of ivy leaves, which denotes, that it was con- 
secrated to Bacchus. Apuleius is said to have seen the 
story of Bellerophon performed in a bacchanalian feast at 
Rome, and that an ass with wings represented Pegasus. 
May not this story have a place in a feast of Bacchus, on 

KB. ,5 3 


[ 35 ] 

account of the connection between Iobates and Bellerophon, 
the former having given his only daughter Alchemones 
in marriage to the latter, and having also made him his 
heir, as a reward for having subdued the Chimaera ; at the 
same time supposing,' that Iobates was the high-priest of 
Bacchus ? 


In this design, a symbolic pillar, consecrated to the 
Dioscuri, is placed in the centre. One of these deities 
is signified by the black fillet, which indicates his death, 
but the other is represented as being alive ; a female is 
making an offering of fruits to these gods, and the cistus is 
placed where we usually see the tabernacle of symbols. 


On the first view this composition appeared to be a repre- 
sentation of Cassandra foretelling the fate of Troy to 
Hecuba, who is seated, and to two of her daughters, and 
her brother Helenus ; but it is the opinion of Winckelman, 
that the subject of it is the selling of Hercules to Omphale. 
The Lydians, says he, clothed themselves in a manner en- 
tirely different from the Greeks, for they covered those 
parts of the body which the others exposed. In this paint- 
ing Omphale is represented veiled, the eyes only being 

[ 36 ] 

uncovered ; Hercules is distinguishable by his club ; and, 
in presenting himself before the queen, touches her knee 
with his left hand, in token of supplication. The winged 
genius, which is placed between these figures, denotes the 
soul of Iphitus, who was killed by Hercules, a crime, for 
the expiation of which this hero submitted himself to 
bondage ; it may also be intended to represent the genius 
of love, announcing to Omphale the object of her passion, 
and soliciting her attention from the female, who is seated 
at her feet. This female, contrary to the custom of her sex, 
wears her hair short, which, like the figures of Electra, 
must have some particular signification; it may indicate a 
sort of confusion of sexes, which was permitted amongst 
the Lydians. The servant, who holds in her hand a symbol 
of Venus in the form of a fan, marks the power of that 
goddess, who confines Hercules in the train of Omphale, 
and obliges him to wear a dress so little suited to his 

It is scarcely necessary to expatiate on the beauty of 
this design ; its superior merit is a sufficient recom- 


The offerings made by the ancients to their deities, con- 
sisted of three kinds, libations, incense, and victims. This 
Plate represents a libation. All the figures are in the 

[ 37 ] 

different dresses, prescribed by their religion. They have 
the crown and the toga, and their feet are bare, and with- 
out sandals. The figure on the right is the person on 
whose account the ceremony is undertaken, as is evident 
from the branch of laurel or olive, which he holds in his 
left hand. By the description, which Statius gives in the 
twelfth book of his Thebais, of the song repeated upon an 
altar erected at Athens to Clemency, we are informed, that 
all those, who wish to address their vows or prayers to 
the gods, must carry a branch of laurel or olive. These 
branches are called ixnrihat, and there are fillets often 
attached to them, called vitta and stemmata. The bowl, 
which he holds in his right hand, is for the purpose of 
receiving a part of the wine employed in the libation, 
that he may either drink it immediately, as is sometimes 
the case, or carry it home and preserve it as a sacred 
thing, and well adapted to prevent disease and every kind 
of misfortune. 

The second figure is that of a Prospolus, or priest of the 
god. In his left hand he holds a vessel containing barley 
mixed with salt, and in the other a vase, filled with wine. 
This priest begins the ceremony by walking round the 
altar, and then throwing upon it some barley, either in 
grains or reduced to a powder, at the same time frequently 
sprinkling both the altar and the assistants with the lustral 
water. On the other side of the column a priest is seen, 

[ 38 ] 

holding a bowl in his hand, and filled with the wine, 
which is to be poured upon the altar. He recites a prayer, 
or sings a hymn accompanied by the double flute, on 
which the remaining figure is playing. Among the an- 
cients, not only music but dancing also was introduced in 
the grand solemnities with which the sacrifices were 
celebrated. And, as those who played the flute, always 
had a part of the victims, there were some persons, whose 
only profession it was. 

The altar in this design consists only of a Doric column, 
at the foot of which, and on the side, which we do not see, 
is the grating or fireplace, upon which they kindle the 
fire, when the sacrifice requires one ; and for the purpose 
of making it flame up with greater ease, there is a species 
of bellows placed, as seen upon the top of the pedestal. 


This design represents Apollo seated in a winged car, he 
holds a patera in his hand, for the purpose of receiving the 
libations of those, who go to consult him. Behind the god is 
a priestess, who, after the libation is performed, pronounces 
the oracle to a queen, whose name is unknown. 

It is presumed, that the figure upon the winged chariot 
is Apollo, for the following reasons: if we refer to Plate 
LX. which certainly represents Apollo giving his orders 


[ 39 J 

to Manto, we shall observe, that, excepting the tripod, the 
composition is the same as the present one. 

If the god is supposed to be at Delphi, the idea of 
placing him on a winged car, may have arisen from the 
name of the architect of the temple, who was called Pteras, 
or winged. It may also have arisen from the following 
fable: Jupiter, wishing to determine the position of 
Delphi, ordered two eagles to take their flight, one from 
the east, and the other from the west ; and the point where 

they met being at Delphi, made him suppose that to be 
the centre of the universe. As a memorial of this event, 
two golden eagles were placed in the temple of Delphi, 
and the priestess was always seated near one of them, 
when she uttered her oracles. We may therefore easily 
imagine, that previous to the introduction of the tripod the 
god may have been placed on a winged car. 

If we do not give credit to this account, namely, that it 
represents Apollo at Delphi, the idea of the winged car 
may perhaps be applied to another fable, related by Mim- 
nermus in some verses preserved by Athenaeus. According 
to this fable, the Sun, after finishing his daily course, and 
being arrived at the confines of the ocean, found there a 
golden couch or car, furnished with wings, and made by 
Vulcan, in which he was transported to the east, while he 
at the same time enjoyed during the night, the advantage 


of reposing after the fatigues of the day. Plato, in his 
dialogue of Phaedra, says, that Jupiter, while occupied in 
maintaining the order of the universe, was accompanied 
by all the gods and goddesses except Vesta, mounted on a 
winged car ; to this circumstance also we may attribute the 
idea of placing Apollo in the same kind of vehicle. This 
god and Jupiter were often confounded together, and 
regarded as the same divinity. Macrobius pretends, that 
Homer, in speaking of the travels of Jupiter among the 
Ethiopian sages, in fact means, under this name, Apollo, 
and that it is also of this last god that Plato speaks in the 
before mentioned dialogue. We may also add, that the 
Assyrians adored the sun under the name of Jupiter, and 
that, in consequence, they called himjupiter of Heliopolis, 
or the city of the sun. 


In this composition we find Bacchus represented with a 
beard ; he wears the Indian robe called bassaride, de- 
noting his having conquered that nation ; he is dancing 
with a bacchante. This, according to Ovid, is the manner 
in which he made himself master of India. These two figures 
are full of animation ; the dress of the bacchante is remark- 
able, for its fringe and ornaments, and particularly for 





pi. sg 

[ 41 ] 

the form, which is of the Oriental fashion; the countenance 
of Bacchus has been executed with great attention, and re- 
sembles that of Ebon, which has already been mentioned. 


This Plate probably represents Autolicus, a conqueror in 
the Pancratian games ; the same person, in honour of whom 
Leochares made a statue, which Pausanias says he saw in 
the Prytaneum at Athens. The crown, which a figure of 
victory is placing upon his head, is composed of branches 
of wild olive. And this seems to prove, that he had been a 
conqueror in the Athenian games. — The envy of his adver- 
sary is well marked by his action of pulling out a feather 
from the wing of the victory. The conquerors were also 
accustomed to ornament their arms with fillets, as observed 
in this composition, and sometimes they were fastened to 
the horses, which had been successful in the race. 


The subject of this Plate is taken from the fourth act of the 
tragedy of Euripides, called Iphigenia in Tauris. The 
characters, introduced, are Iphigenia, a female attendant, 
called by the Romans Flabellifera, Orestes with a diadem 
upon his head, and Pylades. The point of time, which is 


[ 42 ] 

chosen, seems to be that, in which Iphigenia is informed 
of the death of Agamemnon, and she appears to be lamenting 
it ; while Orestes, struck with the degree of sorrow she 
evinces, is inquiring the motives of her grief. There is not 
perhaps a finer composition upon any of the ancient vases, 
than the present, in which the character and attitude of 
Iphigenia are admirably pourtrayed. 


The Epigoni, having taken the city of Thebes, immedi- 
ately thought of fulfilling the vow, which they had made to 
Apollo ; and determined to make choice, among all the 
things they found in the city, of the most precious, as an 
offering to that god. Nothing appeared to them so worthy as 
Manto, the beautiful daughter of the prophet Tiresias. She 
was therefore conducted to Delphi, where she remained 
some time as the priestess, and was known also under 
the name of Daphne. Ancient mythology reports, that 
sometime after she was arrived there, the oracle ordered 
her to go to Colophon, a town in Asia Minor, and to 
found there a religious establishment, similar to that at 
Delphi. She was also commanded to take as her associate 
in this enterprize, and also to marry, the very first man she 
met in going from the temple. Manto prepared to obey 
the oracle, but the recollection of the misfortunes of her 
country made so great an impression upon her, that she at 

PI, 60. 

PI. 61. 

[ 43 ] 

last fell a prey to her affliction. The god, whom she had 
served with the most exemplary piety, wishing to pay an 
honour to the tears she shed for the fate of her country, 
transformed them into a fountain, which was called the 
fountain of Claros. Its waters were said to be endued with 
the power of unfolding futurity. 

This Plate represents Manto, as listening with atten- 
tion and respectful veneration to the oracle, which the 
priestess, who is on the opposite side of the tripod, 


It was frequently the custom among the ancient Greeks, 
when the bridegroom first entered the nuptial bed, to rub 
himself over with perfumes, and particularly so for the 
bride. Previous to this ceremony, a young boy, commonly 
chosen from among the relations, washed the feet of the 
bride ; the new married couple were afterwards presented 
with a quince, which they tasted after they were in bed. 
It is well known, that after Bellerophon had encountered 
the Chimaera, (see Plate LII.) and successfully executed the 
other orders of Iobates, he inspired this prince with 
considerable regard towards him. Iobates was persuaded, 
that this young hero was enabled to escape all the dangers, 
to which he was exposed, by the purity of his mind. He 

I 44 ] 

gave him his daughter Cassandra in marriage, and bestowed 
upon him a part of his dominions. 

This Plate represents Cassandra and Bellerophon upon 
the point of being conducted to the nuptial couch. 
Bellerophon, crowned with the myrtle sacred to Venus, is 
in the act of presenting a vase to his bride, that she may 
smell the perfume, which he has used, or which is intended 
for her. A divinity, adored by the ancients under the name 
of the Genius of Fecundity, and who presides at the birth 
of mortals, is seen washing the feet of Cassandra, and ful- 
filling that office, which is usually allotted to a youthful 
relation of the bride. 

The Nymphagogue, or, as the Romans call her, the 
Pronuba, holds in her hands a fillet, with which the hair of 
the bride was commonly bound, when she was conducted to 
the bed ; and custom preserved this function to the mother. 
It is observable, that the tunic of Cassandra is ornamented 
with spots placed three together ; this number, according 
to Plato, Aristotle, and Plutarch, was regarded as sacred, 
being the symbol of perfection and of creation ; and it might 
be so perhaps, because three numbers multiplied into each 
other form the solid, and because every body is said to 
have three dimensions ; in fact, the Genius of Fecundity, 
who washes the feet of Cassandra, and the triangular spots, 
considered as the indication of the creative faculty, concur 









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[ 45 1 

in marking the great end of the institution of marriage, and 
form a presage of what results from connubial rites. The 
parasol was not only used to defend them from the rays of 
the sun, but was also a mark of elevated rank. It is for this 
reason, that we see it placed in the hands of the princess. 
In some countries it was the custom for new married 
people to retire before sunset. 


This interesting composition is said to represent some of 
the rites, which were paid to Venus at Paphos. The 
goddess appears to be personated by one of her priestesses, 
as the different gods were by their priests, and is in the 
act of receiving something from one of her attendants. 
She is seated on a sort of throne, with a branch, or crown. 
of myrtle upon her head, on which a dove is perched. 
A genius is seen holding a wreath or crown of roses in 
one hand, and in the other offers an indication of the 
goddess. This indication is in the form of a small vase, 
like that which is observable upon the cistus. The dress 
of the figure, carrying the flambeau, seems to characterize 
Adonis, who is represented in his first youth, when the 
attractions of both sexes may be combined in forming a 
perfect beauty. The other priestess and genius in this 
part of the composition, have each a fillet in their hands. 

[ 46 ] 

which they hold towards the tabernaculum, where they 
keep the cistus. 

It is a question, whether the other part of this composi- 
tion (that on the left) is connected with the one just 
described. But if it be not intended to characterize the 
various ablutions which so often precede these sacred 
ceremonies, it is probably meant to represent the feasts, 
that were held upon the banks of the Helicon, in honour 
of Love, and the Muses. Plutarch speaks of these in his 
Dialogue, and Pausanias says, that the Thespians observed 
them every five years. A Cupid is seen sitting upon one 
of those large marble vases, of which so many have been 
found at Herculaneum, and which were intended for the 
purposes of ablution. Two naked females would lead us 
to suppose, that in these feasts they contested the prize of 
beauty, in the same manner as in those, which were ob- 
served upon the banks of the Alpheus at Sparta, at Lesbos, 
and at Paros. 

Psiche, as is related in the sixth book of Apuleius, 
found the pilasters of the gateway of the temple of Juno, 
and the branches of the neighbouring trees, hung with 
valuable offerings and rich cloths, upon which also were 
written the name and good actions of the goddess, to 
whom they had consecrated them. In the same manner 
we may observe in this Plate a fillet suspended near the 
tabernaculum, upon which a portrait of Venus is placed ; 

[ 47 ] 


and there is also some drapery attached to the branch of a 
tree as an offering to this goddess. 

Mirrors were symbolical both of Bacchus and Venus ; 
and it is probably on this account that we find so many 
casts of this goddess in bronze, with a mirror in her 

Printed by W. Bulmer and Co 
Cleveland-row, St. James's. 


, •*■■ > -'■!■'->.